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My Favorite Mormons

September 29, 2007

My Favorite Mormons

By

Chris Rusch

Bishop Bill Brown convinced me to give Mormonism a second chance when I was sixteen. I was disillusioned with the Church and was well on my way to leaving. Thankfully he had taken a special interest in the youth and attempted to provide them with activities they would enjoy and hopefully keep them coming, associating with other members of the Church our age in really fun settings.

While few kids came back from inactivity, I cannot think of any kids who regularly attended that went inactive in their teen years.

While he was far from perfect, and sometimes made his leaders fume, Brown did a lot for the youth of our stake, and helped me realize that there was a lot of fun you could have without smoking, drinking, drugs, swearing, R-rated movies, or engaging in immoral or illegal behavior.

Brown was at a crossroads and persuaded me to try a path that led to Church activity and eventually conversion and testimony.

Mike Hansen was a counselor in our ward’s Young Men presidency and was my boss up until I served my mission in 1997. Mike was like one of us. He was someone that never grew up.

Mike was dynamic storyteller. When we should have been working, Mike and I would sit in his office and he would tell stories about basketball teams he had played on and how he worked hard and played hard while serving his mission in England.

Among other things, Mike helped me realize that you can do your own thing, have your own opinions, and even interpret doctrine differently from your leaders and still remain an active, faithful, Latter-day Saint.

My parents are perhaps my favorite Mormons of them all. As I have grown according to what I have learned and experienced, so have my parents grown according to what hey have learned and experienced. As I have changed in my doctrinal outlook and feelings towards things, so have they.

The thing that impresses me most is that while my parents are very faithful, active, true believing members, they are not dogmatists. One thing that has impressed me is that they are not afraid to express that not everything said by leaders is doctrine, and that sometimes their prejudices and opinions slip through. This has helped me understand deal with dogmatists who insist on past statements and interpretations of doctrine even when those teachings and statements contradict the current teachings of the Church.

The thing that I like the most about my parents is that when their more forceful advances at getting me to live the gospel were rebuffed, they gave me the space to figure it out for myself. It was the best thing that they ever could have done. Instead of attempting to take away my agency, they let me think for myself and define my own testimony and faith.

I think that this is why I am still active today while a number of my friends in high school have slipped into inactivity or have left the Church altogether.

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